Typora – Yet another Markdown Editor

Trying out a new text editor

The application Typora seems to work quite well, so far. I put in the markdown syntax for a level II header and it has changed it automatically in the view mode as soon as I went down to the next paragraph. I’m wondering how it compares with Byword and that is rather going to depend upon whether there is a version of the application to work on the iOS devices.

Too many text editors

It seems I am a bit of a sucker for text editors and I can’t resist getting a new one. This one is okay but I’m wondering what is going to like if I want to change a level II header into something different. The next thing to try to see how it looks with adding a link and also how to add bold text.

It’s very easy to change the level of a heading. I only have to hit command +02 get the heading to a paragraph level. if I want to turn any paragraph into a heading all I have to use is Command plus the number. I thought it was going to be difficult because I can’t see the hashtags for the syntax of the headings in the view. It really didn’t matter at all on account of having the quick keyboard shortcuts. As you might expect, using command + B gave me the bold text.

1

I can see that the best way to work with this would be to write out everything as plaintext and not to put in the header syntax until I finished doing all the writing. It would just be a simple case of putting the cursor into the paragraph I needed to change into a header and using the keyboard shortcut.

Adding links

Adding a link in Typora is really easy, all you have to do is to select the words for the link and use the keyboard shortcut. In this case the keyboard shortcut is Option, Command + A. What this does is to put the square brackets around the words you have selected and it puts the round brackets just afterwards. You move the cursor in between the round brackets and add your link URL. As soon as you move the cursor out of that paragraph the view changes to show it as a WYSIWYG, What You See Is What You Get view of your text. I have tried adding a reference link and it doesn’t seem anywhere near as easy as doing a normal in-line link. With the way the application works there is not much point using the reference link anyway.

Adding images

Once again, you just use a keyboard shortcut and you get the spaces for adding the URL for the image. As soon as you filled in the details the image appears in your view of the document. In between the brackets you put the name of the image, in between the round brackets goes the image URL and you can also add a title if you wish. It looks a bit strange when you first to do this but after you click away from the image syntax it all looks okay.

Adding Lists

  • Just put in the asterisk and the space and start typing and there’s you list.
  • Hit return to make another line in the list. No Problem
  • Hit return twice to finish the list and go back to paragraph text
  • numbered lists are just as easy to make.
  • Loving it.

Mac20Q Verdict

I like so far of this beta version of a markdown editor. It looks like there is a Windows version of it, which is good because there doesn’t seem to be so many Windows markdown editors. Getting the text out of the editor is simple enough.You do have to remember to select all of the text you want to export out before you use the menu or the shortcut key to get the text out either as markdown or as HTML code.

  • ​As a quick and dirty markdown editor
  • I have to say that I really like it.
  • You have themes giving you different views of your document
  • There are also Task Lists available in the application. Converts to a normal list in straight markdown and html

The application could still do with a little bit of polishing and the addition of things like a word count would be good. It does have good facilities for making your way around the text. In the menu bar there is a drop-down outline so you can get to a specific part of your text quickly from the top of the application. I think I will be sticking with the Markdown editors I already have but I will keep my eye out to see how this one improves over time.

Posted in Mac20Q.

Day One 2 – Still the Best Journalling App for Mac and iOS

Day One 2 journalling application – first impressions

I’ve been using the journalling application Day One for quite a few years now. I have written a book about Digital Journalling, you can get on iBooks and also on Amazon. I write every single day in Day One. It was five days ago that I got a message to say that the new version of Day One will be available on the 4th of February. So I’ve been having my own little countdown to when the new application became available. I couldn’t wait to get started with it. The good news is we get a few new things we can do with an application and the bad news is that we have to pay to get the new version. Then again, considering it’s an application I use on a daily basis and I enjoy using, I don’t mind in the slightest giving the developer some money. Providing they’ve done a good job and have made some improvements over the previous version. At least they have given a discount of 50% to buyers of the new application for the next week. It’s the only way that developers on iOS can acknowledge the owners of the previous version. It’s no skin off my nose to know that there are going to be one or two people new to the app will take advantage of this special upgrade price. So the long and short of it is, I have bought the Mac version and the iOS version today and it cost me €25. The Mac version came in at €19.99 and the iOS version came in at €4.99. It’s a good application and well worth the money.

Day One

Doing the upgrade on my devices.

The first upgrade I did was of the iOS version on my iPad Pro. It’s not a huge file to download and didn’t take long before I had the application ready to use. There were about five or six screens with some information about the new application to get past upon opening the app first time. A couple of the screens were also asking questions such as whether I want to have synchronisation, log into account I already have and if I wanted to bring in the data from the previous version. It was pretty handy that the new application recognised that the old application was available on the iPad and offered to bring in all of the old posts, the writing and also the photos. It was a simple procedure to upgrade and to have all of my 3156 journal entries along with nearly 300 photographs and 59 tags, all populating the new Day One 2 digital journalling application for iOS and Mac. After that was done I was keen as mustard to try the application out and see what it could do.

Still more upgrading

The next upgrade was on the iMac and once again it didn’t take too long to have everything sorted out ready to use. After I’d brought in the data from the older version I was then able to remove the previous Day One version. I think it is probably a good idea to do this as soon as possible as otherwise there is a chance that the data could get mixed up with the synchronisation from the device to the service at Day One. The icon for the app of course needs to be similar and you might open up the old one by mistake otherwise. It seemed to take a little longer, maybe about an hour so before the application became available on my iPhone App Store. When doing a App Store search it was not turning up in the list. Finally, I left it alone and it downloaded to the iPhone by itself, because that’s how I have it set in my settings for the new applications to be downloaded. There was a small problem I encountered this morning and I was glad to spot a message on Twitter to say that there were problems with the servers for the synchronisation for DayOne. If I hadn’t seen that message then I would probably have got a bit annoyed when creating new posts on one or another of my devices. You expect a sync service to synchronise data to your other devices. It has taken a good portion of the day before the synchronisation was fully up-to-date on all of my devices. Just had to learn to be patient, thats all.

New facilities in Day one for journalling

Day One

Multiple journals

One of the best new features is now you can have more than one journal contained within the Day One application. So one of the first things I did was to create a new journal to split off and have separate, all of my entries about writing books. In the previous version of the application the only way you’d be able to separate out sets of entries would be to use the tagging feature. We still have the tagging feature within Day One 2, so we’re not going to be losing out on anything. As a user you might want to have a journal for things related to work and another journal for things connected with personal life. It’s quite a big change and it does make the best journalling app for Apple devices even more useful. When you make a new journal entry it’s easy to choose which journal you put it into. It’s another way to help you search your journal and overall the searching much better too.

Multiple images per post

Many times in the past with the old version of the application I had wanted to have more than one image within an entry. It just wasn’t possible and once I got used to it it didn’t really matter too much. However, with Day One 2 we’re now able to put multiple images into one entry. This does work much better and it is a welcome new feature. I’d like to think that as time goes by will also be able to add video clips to an entry in Day One. In a blog post by the developers they have stated that it is on their list of things to do to add audio clips. The ability to add audio clips would be rather nice because there are times when you’d like to hear the sound of somebody’s voice. This is much more personal and can say much more than the words on page will say in a journal. It will be lovely to record a short conversation with my old mom, or hear my grandson saying a few words and save it in the journal.

Mapping your Journal

Day One

I can’t remember whether we has a map to look at in the old version of the app. I never thought about using it, if it was there. Now we have super mapping features to show where in the world we did our journal writing. I love being able to see where I was when I did the journal entry. On the Mac version you can use a right click on the map and choose – New Entry at this Location . Maybe you want to record something you did earlier in the day when you were in a different place. On iOS when you have the map in view there is a button View Visible Region in Timeline (# entries). Why is this facility no available in the Mac version of Day One App? This is a fantastic way to see all the posts from a specific address. It could be all within the country showing or all the entries from a street in a town.

Day One Mapping tools

When you have selected a Day One entry you can choose to see the location details either in the Day One map or have it jump into Apple maps. If you choose the Day One map the map will show in the left panel. Looking at is in the Apple maps application is good if you want to set up some directions to or from someplace. If you look at the location within the Day One map you get to see little spots of blue where you have made all of your journal entries. also you get the choice of looking at it with hybrid and with satellite views.

Search for your Entries

The first part of your search could be from the Map View, which you then refine down to get just what you want. Hit the tag button and you can dig into just the entries with a tag you choose. The tag button gives you access to all of the filters for search. Favourites/Starred, Tags, Years, Published, Activity and Music. The super thing with search is how you can add a number of search criteria to your search to ensure you get just exactly what you’re looking for. Even more reason to make sure you use all of the tagging, mapping, favouriting, marking the activity as you make your entries. The date will go in automatically and sometimes the activity will be recorded for you too. Tagging is easy in the extreme. You only have to type a tag in fully once, the first time you do it. After that, just start typing and the autocomplete will do the rest. No excuse when it comes to it not to tag. I have over 3000 entries and if I want to look for all the instances of something in a specific year, tagged with a certain tag and in the favourites, that involved the activity of walking – No Problem to see just those in the timeline using the filters.

Day One Filtering

Searching for words instead of filtering

Day One Dropdown List

 

In the Mac app – Searching for a word in the entries brings up a separate drop down list of entries containing that word. Click on one of the entries and it shows you the content of the entry in the main window. It works, but with the iOS app the space where the timeline was showing, shows the results of the search. The way it works is not the same. On the Mac if you want to add tags to a set of entries based on the mention of a word you click on each one in the search list in turn. Then you may add the tag at the bottom of the entry in the main window without having to open the entry fully for editing. It’s possible to correct the location, activity, add as a favourite, location and the date connected with the entry also. All without having to open the entry for editing. If you want to add a photo to the entry you will need to go to editing mode. It is much better to remember to add tags and whatever when you make the entry in the first place, but you can go in later to make changes if you want to.

Photos View

If you are a more visual sort of person then it’s quite likely you’re going to love the photos view. This gives you a view of all of your entries with photos included in the spot where you can choose between timeline, photos, map and calendar. This will show all of the photos included including the entries where you have added more than one photo. You select the photo on your panel of photos on the left-hand side and the entry containing a photo will show up in the main window to the right. It’s a good way to scan through your Day One journal especially if you add photos to all or most of your journal entries.

When you’re looking at these photos view you can do the same filtering as you can when looking at the timeline view. Show just the photos based on one or more tags. With the tags the operator is OR so if you choose more than one tag it will show you all of the pictures including both of those tags chosen. It would be nice in a future version of the application to have variety of Boolean options for searching. The facilities available for the moment are pretty good and a definite improvement on the previous version. When you finish doing your filtering and you want to see all of the entries in your journal again, just click on the tag icon and then use the command at the top Clear All. The photos view is a great way of looking at your journal with most of the images in a square and then one or two photos in a larger square the same as for of the other smaller sized squares. The pictures in the larger squares are the entries that have been favourited.

Day One 2

Calendar view

The calendar view is not as pretty or as useful as the other the views available. Usually you look at this when you want to see if you’ve missed any days in your journalling. There’s nothing wrong with going back and writing something for someday in the past when maybe you were too busy to write in your journal. I don’t usually have that problem myself with being able to add journal entries from my iOS devices as well as on my Mac. It’s easy to pick up the iPhone and to dictate a quick sentence or two along with a photo and not miss out on a day of journalling. The other hand the use for the calendar view is if you want to do some filtering out to show specific journal posts over a period of time. For example, in the journal I make a note of when I do the computer backups. When I’m looking in calendar view I can easily see how often I have backed up my computer if I use the filter for the tag Backup. I could keep a separate journal just for backups, now that’s available in this Day One 2. I may or may not do that, because as it stands it’s working quite well using tags.

Day One 2 Calendar View

The Mac 20 Q verdict on Day One 2

The previous version of Day One was very good and I didn’t really feel the need to do an upgrade to a new version in terms of what I was doing with the application. When is an application you use every day of your life you’re going to want to have the latest and greatest available. I was waiting with baited breath as soon as I knew there was a new version coming. I upgraded as soon as it was possible to get the new versions from the app stores. I haven’t been disappointed in the slightest.

The basics of creating posts are very similar to the previous version. The main change for the editing of entries is being able to add more than one photo per entry. This is a feature well worth having. The ability to have more than one journal as another way to separate various parts of your life is also excellent. I like that I’ve been able to drag pictures directly from the photos app on my Mac into Day One. Don’t forget the sharing extensions you can do from other applications such as Over for iOS, which gives you a way to add typography to your images before adding them to the journal.

Now that we’ve got past the first day of synchronising the new applications together using the Day One synchronisation, everything is working just perfectly. Entries are made on my iOS devices turn up in the Mac application very soon afterwards.

It’s especially important when you have a large journal over many years that you’re able to conduct searches for information when you need it. I’m highly impressed with the filtering of the posts with Ron looking in the timeline, photos, map or calendar views. It works very fast and certainly does a great job.

Take advantage of the upgrade price

Day One 2 iCon

If you haven’t got the application already then go and run immediately to the App Store for either iOS or for the Mac – or both. The upgrade price is only available for the first week and is mainly there to allow users of previous versions to get a better price for the upgrade. If you are short of cash then you might just buy the iOS version which will work on both your iPhone and on your iPad. I like to use DragonDictate which is now known as Mac Dictate on my Mac to do many of my journal entries. For this reason I like to have versions for both platforms. I have had brief looks at other journalling applications and I am of the opinion that Day One is the best one out there.

Get the Book about Digital journaling

Buy on Amazon – Buy on iTunes

Digital Journaling

Posted in Mac20Q.

Creating Web Forms using Hype App and Web Form Builder

How to make web forms with HTML 5 Hype

I have been building up an email list for my Good and Geeky brand of books. Part of what you need, to do this is to create web forms and landing pages. I have my email list with Mail Chimp which is a really useful email list provider. There are forms you can make from within that system, but it looks nicer if you make your own. I did try using the Lead Pages service for making landing pages and I stopped using it after two or three months. It seemed to be working quite good for a month or so and I had more sign-ups than I’d had previously. Then it just stopped doing what it’s supposed to do and it was kind of expensive per month, so it just had to go. So I looked around for software that could give me great looking landing pages (sometimes called squeeze pages) for my email list. I do have the application Hype and I’ve been using it for a couple of versions. It’s a fantastic application that allows you to create animations in HTML 5. So I looked at a way I could include web forms within a page crafted in the Hype application. It will be possible to use the embedded forms code from Mail Chimp, but as I say, they are not too pretty. So it was time to do some googling and searching for an application to spice things up. I suppose, one of the possibilities would have been to spend time learning more about using CSS, but that would have taken extra time. I looked at a few apps but then I found an one called Web Form Builder. I gave the application a try and it works mostly okay. So I paid for it.
Setting up with Mail CHimp

Using Web Form Builder

It’s easy enough to get using this application and you have themes to help you get going. There are only 16 themes when you get started, but you can import extra themes into the application. I chose one I liked and I have stuck with it. When you have your theme sorted out you can then start to build your web form. You drag and drop items onto the form in the first instance. In the Elements tab you have three sections, Basic, Magical and Static.

Within the Basic section you have your text fields, drop-down boxes and radio buttons and you can even ask for a password. Within the Magical section you can add a request for email address or a phone number as well as ask for a date or a web address. Within the Static section you can add headers, footers, logos, submit buttons and even add form protection with Capcha.

Web Form Builder

Once you have all of the elements in there, the thing to do is to go into the settings and link up your form to your email list provider. This involves getting an API key from Mail Chimp and then you can match up the fields on your form to fields within the email list service. The next thing to do is to go to the properties tab and make adjustments to the elements you have added to your form. So for example, you might want to change the text giving people information about what to enter into a field. You can change colours of text and in the case of a drop-down list, say what you want to be in the list. There are lots of different options so you can set up your web form just as you want it.

There is a small problem

There are occasions when you will put your cursor into some parts of the application and it doesn’t go in there. This gives me the impression that maybe the software is a not very well done, port from software intended to use on another platform such as Windows. I have no doubt that if it was designed specifically to use on the Mac, it would certainly be prettier. It is a minor annoyance, but it does get irritating from time to time. It can take two or three tries to get in the editing area with the cursor.
Form Exported

Using the code from Web Form Builder

There is an extra service connected to this software to provide hosting for your forms. You do have to pay more to use this service. I go for the FREE export to manual server setup. After doing it a few times it’s not too difficult, but the process could be easier and better. It is necessary to make some small adjustments to the code for the forms to work. I have to add the URL part of the domain name so that it’s there in full rather than just a relative URL. I’ve also found that the code given is more than I need, so I just delete the bits I don’t want. It wasn’t too difficult to find out the information to be able to set this up, but it could have been easier. Also I think the software developer could have given options within the export so that, that this messing about wouldn’t have been necessary. So I put the code snippet which is displayed during the export process into a HTML editor to get it ready to put into Hype. The export process exports out to a folder giving you a PHP document and another folder full of code bits and pieces. It’s a good idea to use your FTP software to upload all of this to the server at this point in the process. If you do this before you do that bit of editing in the HTML software you’ll be able to see when you have got the code working properly.

Code in Hyperedit html code editor

Putting the code into a Hype document

All you need to do is to add a HTML widget to your Hype scene and click on the little round icon with a pencil in it situated underneath the widget. This opens up a window for you to paste in your web form code. I’ll go into more detail about making a landing page with Hype in another blog post. Once you have all of the work done within Hype you can upload it to the server and you’ll be in business.

form put into Hype app

Saying thank you

When you’re making a landing page you also need to make a thank you page. I use a new thank you page for each of the forms I make. This is so I can track clicks using Google Analytics to know how many people get to the thank you page. This way you can make comparisons as to which of your landing pages are working the best to build up your email list.

Here is the landing Page I made with Web Form Builder and Hype

Spend the money to do it easy or get geeky

I’d much rather spend the money as a one-off payment to give me the software facilities to do the job than to continually pay out a monthly basis. The monthly costs were working out in the region of €30 per month. If your business model can support that then why not pay out and have done with it. For me, it just didn’t make financial sense and I really don’t mind spending an hour or two to create a great looking landing page using Hype and Web Form Builder.

Hype is excellent Mac software for creating HTML 5 coded pages and I can thoroughly recommend it. Web Form Builder does the job even though it is not great as Mac software goes. Using these two applications along with the FTP software I use, Yummy FTP gets the job done. I have Transmit by Panic Software for my FTP needs on iOS.

Posted in Mac Software.

Specialist Requirements For Editing Text

Scrivener

It’s something we all have to do on our computers, editing text, maybe in iWriter or in Scrivener. Most of what I do requires getting ideas out of my head and into plain text. It’s the words and the ideas that are important and for sure I don’t need to create a Word document for that. There are times when you do need to take it a step further and publish. You have to decide which application to use to best suit your purpose. Is the text you are going to produce going to a webpage, an e-book, a document to be printed or is it something to be sent off to a social network site. Within those different uses for the text there are other considerations. When you’re sending off to a webpage can you put it in as plain text, markdown, rich text format or does it have to be in HTML code? If it’s going to be in e-book, is the final destination for the Kindle, a standard e-book or are you thinking along the lines of a fancy book for iBooks on the Apple platform. Documents to be printed need to be set up depending upon the length of the document and whether you will be printing internally or sending it off to a printer. If it’s just a couple of pages and mostly text then you can use Pages on Mac and iOS. If it’s more pictures and just a little bit of text you might decide to use something like Affinity Designer. For sending off to a printer, all you can do is to talk to them and find out the required format. A good way for that sort of printing would be to send out as a PDF. A lot of what we produce these days is destined for a webpage. Sending off to something like WordPress, Blogger or other similar blogging platforms you have the choice of working with markdown, plaintext to use in the platform editor, you might even need to throw it in as HTML text.

Choosing the application for writing and publishing

NewImage

When you’re initially producing the text you don’t always know what the final destination is going to be. So it’s often the best idea to work in plain text and that means no formatting. This allows you to concentrate on the words and the ideas you’re producing. You can decide later how to move it to the next stage. There’s an application on the iOS platform called Drafts and I’d love to see this on the Mac OS X platform. As soon as you open it up you can throw in your ideas in the form of plaintext. The application then gives you automated options for sending the text to other applications. It works really good if you’re planning to send something off to the social networks. Start by putting in the 140 characters or less for a tweet and then press the button to send it off to Twitter. While you are still in the same note you can adjust it and add to it, to make it into the proper length for a Facebook post or for wherever. So you can end up with the same idea extended and developed for various places all from the same starting point. The closest you have on your Mac to this way of working would be to use something like a Byword. You can work with plaintext or markdown and there are export options allowing you to send it out in those two formats or as Rich text, or HTML code. I usually prefer to work with markdown and export out to HTML code to use in the application Mars Edit, the blogging software. Another advantage of using Byword is that it is going to give you access to those text documents on iOS with iCloud synchronisation. It doesn’t matter where you start or finish the document, it’s just there wherever you need it. There are other markdown editors available that will give similar functionality.

Organising your text files

There are plenty of people who still like to use the old school way of organising files into folders and subfolders. The drawback of with this is you have to have your folders and subfolders already created hand always make sure that files go into the correct places. Put some think into the wrong place and you’ll never find it again. Well, not unless you do some searching with Spotlight. A better and more modern way of organising your files is to throw everything into one document folder and to use the tagging system that’s been available in OS X for some time now. You can add more than one tag to a file and that’s equivalent to having the file available in multiple folders. You don’t have too add words into the file name to help you find them again based upon relevance. Just make sure you add the tags as you create the file (you can add tags later also) and it’s quicker and easier than jumping around in folders and subfolders. Well worth the effort in using tags when you save a file.

Screenshot 13 12 2015 17 34

Organisation of your text

You can also use an application that will have some sort of internal system for organising your files. If it’s for keeping track Ulysees Appof notes you could use something like NValt which has a good search system built-in. If you’re working on longer documents then you might use something like Scrivener or Ulysses. Both of these will let you work in plaintext or markdown and output the words in a variety of formats. You can create groupings of documents such as a group for chapters of a novel. You could have a separate group which is where you keep all of your blogging documents. Scrivener does just about everything, but has a bigger learning curve and can seem complicated. Ulysses on the other hand is simpler in its approach while doing the basic text manipulation activities well. The advantage of using Ulysses would be that you can have your text documents available in a pair of applications, one for the Mac and one for iOS. The people who make Scrivener have promised they will be doing a version for iOS at some point in time, but it is a long time coming.

Working with code

For short simple documents in HTML any text editor will do the job. If you going to work with something that is a longer more complicatedAtom Code Editor document then a coding editor is a very good idea. One good advantage of using a coding editor is that it will colour code the text you put into it. It makes it very easy to see which bits of your text are content and which bits are code. You will be using themes which will give you different colours for different parts of the code. Some themes you’ll use specific to the coding language, which is good as it will give you visual clues for what you’re looking at. In the code editor Atom you might see functions in pink text on black background while comments are in blue. Variables will be in white and other parts of the code could be in yellow text. Code can be difficult and complicated to follow, so having it in all the different colours makes it easy to read. This is more the case when you are coding with something like Python or JavaScript but it’s also handy with HTML or markdown code. The Atom application is a text editor that does code, but you could also use something specific to a coding language such as Pycharm, which is the one I’ve chosen to work with Python. The other advantage of using this sort of coding editor is that it will also give you access to the software for running the code. As well as creating files which will be programs you can run within the application, you get a command line where the code will run as soon as you press enter.

Posted in Mac20Q.

The Apple Pencil in Action

Using the Apple Pencil

After having to wait a week before I actually got the pencil in my hands following my order of the iPad Pro and also the Apple Pencil, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it at first. Did I need to charge it up? Did I need to go to settings to connect to the iPad? Then I remembered reading somewhere, the first thing to do is to plug into the iPad lightning port and the connection will be taken care of automatically. In any case, I was already aware that this is the way to charge the Apple Pencil. It’s not necessary to charge it up in this way very often, as giving it only 15 seconds of plugged in time will give it 30 minutes of usage. It’s easy enough to plug it in every now and again, go off and make a cup of tea and it will give you enough for a good session of drawing with your iPad Pro. The lightning connector at the end of pencil is covered by a magnetic cover which seems to be held on securely enough for general usage. It’s all looking good for going Post PC with the iPad Pro.

At the top of the post check out the Free Book about iPad Art Apps.

Palm rejection while using the Apple Pencil

To get good quality lines and shapes when you’re drawing, you do need to put your palm onto the iPad as it helps to steady the hand. Just the same as if you are painting and using a mahl stick (a small soft pad on the end a stick allowing you to steady your hand when you have a paintbrush and wet paint on the canvas.) I can report that the palm rejection software works flawlessly. When you are using the Apple Pencil and resting the side of your hand on the screen you don’t get any extra unwanted marks on your drawing. This makes it very comfortable to do precision work as you are drawing your lines. It’s a little bit like magic because you put your hand onto the screen first before the Apple Pencil touches the screen and you still don’t get unwanted lines. It is actually very impressive technology.

Drawing on the iPad

Comparisons with the Wacom Creative Stylus

Concepts

I have both version 1 and version 2 of the Wacom creative stylus and they are both good quality. Version 1 has a larger round soft tip while version 2 as the hard small point. Version 1 feels better to draw with as the softer tip moves more smoothly on the screen, while version 2 feels a little bit harder and more difficult to control. The Apple Pencil somehow or other has the harder tip like version 2 of the Wacom, yet still feels smooth and controllable on the screen. You don’t get the harsh tap and movement of the end of the tip with the Apple Pencil as you do with the Wacom stylus. The difference in quality between the two in terms of the quality of the lines you get, is huge. The Apple Pencil is a joy to use in comparison. With the Wacom devices there is supposed to be pressure sensitivity, but that comes down to how well it is implemented in the various iPad drawing and painting applications. I haven’t seen much evidence of this pressure sensitivity and integration as yet. The Apple Pencil, on the other hand is well supported in Procreate and is certain to be implemented in all of the best iPad drawing applications. In Paper by 53 when you use the pen tool it is very easy to control the width of the line you’re drawing. Press a little bit harder to get a wider or thicker line. With the pencil tool in that application when you press harder the line is darker. This means if you want to do some shading in a small area, you can press lighter or harder to get the graduations of tone or colour. For larger areas of shading you can draw with the Apple Pencil at a low angle. Pixelmator for iPad hasn’t yet been updated for the Apple Pencil, but I am sure it will be quite soon. The application Concepts which is a vector style of application but feels like a bitmap editor at times has been updated to work well with the Apple pencil. Concepts is a marvellous application and I highly recommend it for iPad design and drawing work. I will also be looking forward to seeing an upgrade to the application ArtRage as soon as they can do it. With the application Tayasui Sketch you can use the Apple Pencil, but it hasn’t been well implemented as yet. There is a noticeable lag between the pointer of the Apple Pencil and the line you’re drawing. I’m sure it will get better in time as these applications get upgraded, but for the moment the best application for the Apple Pencil in my opinion is Procreate. See the article on iColorama on the iPad.

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The Apple Pencil in The hand

The body of the pencil feels slightly slippery. Despite that, it still feels good in the hand and easy to control as you draw. The balance of the Apple Pencil is just perfect for the length of it. The length of the Apple Pencil is a little longer than your usual stylus to use on an iPad. It doesn’t take too long to get that feeling of being totally comfortable with drawing with the device. When using Procreate and using one of the painting brushes you’ll see an outline of the shape of the brush on the screen as you use it. Not only that, you get visual feedback showing you the effect of the pressure sensitivity. This makes it very easy to get used to the amount of pressure you need to apply with the Apple pencil, so you can get a smooth transition from light to dark. After a couple of days of using the Apple Pencil I can safely say that I’m in love and I want to do more and more drawing with the perfect combination of iPad Pro and Apple Pencil.

Have a look at Photo Art with Affinity Photo on Mac20Q

Posted in Apple Pencil.

Going Post–PC with the iPad Pro

I won’t be going completely without using desktop computers. This is the case because I do need to use my Mac for dictation. Dragon for Mac is the bees knees when it comes to dictation. I can do Siri dictation on the iPad and I prefer to do that, than use the keyboard for typing. Not bad but not as accurate as Dragon. It’s not that I don’t like the iPad keyboard for typing, because with predictive text it can be as quick as or even faster than a physical keyboard. When you only need to do one tap to put in a long word or even do many long words one after the other, you just have to appreciate how good it is. Despite all of this, I now have my hands on a lovely iPad Pro.

Drawing and painting on the iPad

IPad Pro Apple PencilOne of my main reasons to get the iPad Pro is for digital drawing and painting and it seems that the Apple Pencil will be marvellous for the job. When I finally get the Apple pencil, that is. There is a wait of one or two weeks to get this product from Apple and I can’t believe that they didn’t have enough made for the launch of the iPad Pro. I am an artist and I used to be an art teacher and despite that I’m not brilliant at drawing these days. I’m quite out of practice after spending many years doing other things and not drawing much at all. I’m keen to get back into drawing again. I have been using a couple of different stylus with my previous iPad and I have both versions of the Wacom creative stylus. One has the usual rubbery end and the other has the harder point. The new Apple Pencil is more like the second version which has the harder end for drawing with. I find that one is quite clicky and hard on the surface when drawing and some of the applications don’t support it. The beauty of the Apple Pencil is, it is specifically made for the job. There is extra technology and hardware implementation on the iPad screen itself. This means that there is very little lag from where the drawing point is, to where the line appears on the screen. I expect this will also stop that thing happening in some applications on previous iPad apps where you would draw a line that was supposed to be straight and it would end up being kind of wavy. I would love to get my hands on an Apple Pencil now to try out. I should have called into the Barcelona Apple store on Saturday as I was passing.

Hitting the iPad Pro hard for the next month

I have promised myself that apart from the time I need to spend dictating text into Dragon dictate on the Mac I’ll spend has much time as possible using the iPad Pro. I’d like to see if I could transition to the small mobile device, despite it being quite a bit larger than the previous version. It should work out a lot easier having the ability to run two apps side-by-side on the screen. Each app being the same size as they used to be on the iPad Air 2. It makes it very easy to do a copy and paste from one application to another. I expect that one day we will be able to do a drag and drop in between two applications. Although, who knows what version of the operating system for iOS it will be when that will becomes available. The screen for the iPad Pro is lovely and a very high resolution which makes it a delight to work with. A truly immersive experience when using the iPad Pro. That is a very good thing when you use art applications. Keeps you in the zone and makes it more personal for your creativity.

My need to get a protective cover is holding me back

Despite the fact that the devices well-balanced and weighted and feels good to hold and use , it does feel a little bit slippery and precarious in my hand. I have become used to having my iPads in a decent protective cover. I prefer to have one that will protect the back as well as the front. I also like the smart covers that turn the screen off using the magnet sensors when you close it. I chose a cover from Amazon for the magnificent price of €15 rather than laying out the ridiculous amount of money for an Apple smart cover. As I was saying about my preference for dictation, I don’t have too much need for a keyboard. I’m not hankering after getting the Logitech Create keyboard for the iPad Pro or the Apple iPad Pro keyboard. I might still try one out though when I see one in the Apple Store on my next visit.

Logi CREATE Keyboard Case for iPad Pro

Other Mac apps I’ll need to use.

BookCreator

I do have an application on the iPad that will create e-books and it does a fairly good job of it. However, Book Creator doesn’t do the iBooks that I’ll need to use iBooks Author for. It’ll be interesting to find out which are the other OS X applications that I just can’t do without. There are occasions when all need to do some high-level photo editing and for that it’s still going to be better to use Affinity Photo and maybe I’ll have stick with that and Affinity Designer. I used Topaz Impression the other day also to modify a photo in a creative way. Seems like I might have to use the Mac for quite a few things…. Still, I’ll try to get as much use out of the iPad Pro. I’ll pick it up first and only when I really have to switch to the Mac will I change over.

Posted in iPad.

Photo Art with Affinity Photo, iColorama and Topaz Impression.

Working through the Applications

The beginning of story for creating these photo art images is taking the photographs using my Sony NEX 6 mirrorless camera onto different weekend photo trips. The first of these weekends was a visit to Ireland to go and see my son and grandson and the first photograph I used in this Photo art came from a walk in the Deerpark Forest in Virginia. Before I got back home to Catalonia I had worked on a couple of the photos in iColorama on my iPad. It’s a great way to spend the time on the aeroplane and takes your mind off the screaming kids at the other end of the plane. In the iColorama application I used one of the presets within the effect area called Flat. What this effect does is to turn the whole image into small very colourful shapes which looks nothing like the image it started with, unless you reduce the opacity. Bringing the opacity down from 100% to around 20 to 25% gives you a pleasant looking image with pastel colours. Lately, one of the things I like to do with these images is to put it into another affect called Flow and use the various controls to change it to just the way I want it to look.

Fish basket Bridge colour liquid lines

The image above is using the effect called Liquid Lines – Background of the image was made in iColorama.

The second part of the story is a trip to the harbour to take more pictures of the equipment on the fishing vessels. I look for patterns and shapes in the hydraulic machinery, the nets and fishing equipment. When I got back home from the harbour I worked with some of the images I’d imported into Photos Application on my Mac. I have a variety of applications from the developer Macphun and one of them I use quite often is called Intensify Pro. This application has a wide range of effects, settings and presets going from basic photo enhancement to the Strong and dramatic effects With this photo I took of a part of an aluminium fishing basket, I just gave it some basic enhancement to jazz up the photo. I made it sharper and I made the shapes stand out better by adding some structure.

Photo montage directly after work in Affinity Photo – No Effects applied

Fish basket Landscape mix 1

Using Affinity Photo

What I wanted to do was to take two photos and merge them together. The basic idea was to take an image that was metal and ropes with a little bit of grunge and remove the background so I could replace it with a contrasting type of image. I’m still getting used to the controls of the application Affinity Photo and so I had to work out the best way to delete the background. There was one large area of background to remove which was going to be fairly easy using the eraser tool, at least until I got to the edges. Then there were a few small areas that were going to require fairly detailed working. So I needed some practice using the selection tools in Affinity Photo. I used the Flood Select Tool, Brush Select tool and the Freehand Select Tool. The tool with the brush will select areas of colour and I found it too easy to select sections I didn’t want to have selected. This was because the colours next to the areas I actually wanted were not dissimilar enough. When I tried to deselect the areas I didn’t want, it would also deselect other areas I wanted to keep. It got annoying very quickly. It was easier to use the freehand selection tool and especially so, where I was working with straight lines. I also found I could get more control by zooming in much closer to my image and changing the size of the selection brush. The Flood selection tool gives you a crosshair to start your selection area. Then you drag across the image and you can see where has been selected with the lines of marching ants. You just have to keep sliding across the image until it selects too much, back off a little bit to deselect that extra part and then let go. You then move the cursor to another area that needs to be selected and do the same again adding to the full selection. It works pretty well and only needs a little bit of tidying up with the detail work with the brush selection tool to finish. The other problem was sometimes I moved the selection instead of adding or subtracting to it. You have to be careful where you start with the tool.

Detailed selection work in Affinity Photo

With all of the basic selection done, all you need to do is to use the eraser tool and delete what you don’t want. I found it was then necessary to go into some of the edges of the parts of the image I was keeping and tidy thing up. There was a little bit of chromatic edging, this is where you get a blue edge around some parts of the image. Depends on the lens on the camera and the light of the day. I used the selection tools to grab these bits of blue and then to erase them. In a few parts of the selected image the edge was rough and I could see the squares of the pixels. I found that the best way to clear this up, was to use the blur tool at a medium opacity. I ran this tool along all of the edges and it ended up looking pretty good at the finish. When I had zoomed out of the close-up view, the overall effect was still sharp enough.

Adding the background layer in Affinity Photo

The application Affinity Photo which is a fantastic Photoshop alternative at a much lower price, has the layering you’d expect from a top-class photo manipulation app. It was easy to bring in another photograph to put on a layer lower than the one I was working on so it would show through on all the places where I had deleted in the top photo. I experimented with a few different images below the metal fishing basket picture and exported the results out as JPEG files.

One Step Beyond With Topaz Impression.

Topaz have a number of applications for manipulating your photos. Topaz Impression gives you filters and effects based upon artists and artists tools. You can make an image look like it was drawn with pencils and crayons, charcoal or paint. There are distortions of the image and colour effects which are based upon artists such as Turner, Georgia O’Keeffe, Van Gogh, Degas and Monet. There are all sorts of controls available within the application which allow you to create your own painterly effects. You can go for something which will emulate impasto oil colours or you could go for something more delicate looking like a watercolour. I quite like the one called Liquid Lines which does weird things to the shapes within the image. I also the love the one called Psycho which does the same sort of thing but also alters the colours.

Fish basket Landscape mix Georgia

Posted in Digital Art.

Animated Text Generator In Motion 5 And Final Cut Pro X

When you are making movies for your YouTube videos it is inevitable that at some point in time you will want to include some text in your movie. Not only that, but you will also want to have animated text rather than the straightforward plain vanilla text. It is a video with moving pictures, after all so it does need movement to draw the eye, and if you animate text that is one thing you can do. It’s not going to take you long to find that you have an animated text generator available for you to use in Motion 5 and Final Cut Pro X. You can make videos for youtube look great using fancy text effects.

Make animated text effects in Motion 5 and use them in FCPX

When you are working in Final Cut Pro X you will see that there are a number of titles that are available that you view text that you can use in your YouTube videos. Some of these titles with text also include animation graphics to enhance the title for you. While you can use the built-in text effects that are available in Final Cut you will see that Final Cut is not an animated text generatoror an animated text maker. For creating text that will be animated in a way that is just perfect for your video you will need to get working in Motion 5. The good thing is that you can take a title that is provided for you in Final Cut and use that as a starting point to edit and change to make your own special creation.

Animated text effects in Motion 5 – Animated text generator

The power that is within the application Motion 5 will allow you to do all sorts of things with text, it has a number of animated text generators. You will be able to combine the choices that you can make with the various styles of text, fonts as well as fillings and outlines that you can use, but you can also use this animated text maker with other behaviour and built-in effects. To a large extent the sky is the limit with regards as to what you could create, I would recommend though that you should keep it simple with your animated texts. It is too easy to get carried away with all of the possibilities. In the end you have to realise that what you want is text that is readable and yet is also a video animation that will catch the eye of whoever is watching your video.

Using Motion 5 for animating text

Although you can do simple things like changing the colour of the text, adding outlines and choosing the font, you can also add drop shadows and even use a pixie dust effect. It is also possible to add a glow to your text there are also a number of styles that you can choose which will add already pre-combined effects which might include gradients and drop shadows. You might use animated text to make a video bug and for that uses a small bit of text which sits in the corner of your video, this is the sort of thing that you might see on the TV. TV channels like to remind you which TV channel you are watching.

Animated Text Generator in Motion 5

There are transitions that are available in Final Cut Pro also that can be added to your taste which will give it a certain amount of animation. To probably get your text moving and grooving, dancing and prancing across the screen then Motion 5 is your answer. Motion 5 is an animated text generator that you can work out completely separately or you can get to from within Final Cut Pro. When in Final Cut Pro if you right click or do a two finger tap on your trackpad you’ll see option which will open up the title in Motion. Have a look at the YouTube video to get an idea of how to get started making animated text effects to add to your video animation. In Motion 5 I used a animation text generator to have the text bounce up and down a little and then I used it in final cut pro x motion is a marvellous app.

Posted in Mac20Q.

Apple’s Photos App – Better with Extensions

Better and Easier

Having moved on from Aperture to the Apple Photos application I’m pleased to see that it is getting better and even easier to use. There were improvements to the application when El Capitan arrived and now it is improving further with extensions. It is all so nicely integrated into the application it makes it easy to use features from other applications right from within Photos. A couple of my favourite applications from the people at Macphun were already upgraded and provided extensions. I had thought that Intensify Pro should also have an extension, but there wasn’t one there yet. So I opened up the application this morning and told it to check for updates. Lo and behold, there was an update available to the latest Creative Kit version. So I did the install and then the third party extension only needed a check mark in the box in the system preferences. I use Photos a lot because I take a lot of photos and also because I work with them in applications like iColorama – Image Editor and Brushes Painter – Katerina Alieksieienko and Procreate on my iPad. All of my photos and photo art end up in the photos app.

Fullscreen 21 10 2015 11 45

More updates to Photos application

I already had extensions for Noiseless, Tonality, Snapheal, BeFunky. I was surprised to see that Pixelmator had added an extension I hadn’t noticed. This morning had a play with the Distort functions added by Pixelmator and I was pleased with it. Changes made to a photo are applied and you can go back to the original at any time from within Photos. The nondestructive way that Photos and the extensions work with your images is excellent. Although Tonality and Snapheal already had added extensions there were also updates to the Creative Kit versions available this morning. The downloads didn’t work absolutely perfectly, for two of them I had to do the download twice, but we got there in the end!

Working with extensions in Photos

The fact that the work you do with the extensions is reversible, is good. However, there will be times when you want to make sure you don’t lose the work you’ve done. If you made a set of detailed changes to an image using an extension and back in Photos you use the revert to original, you will lose all of those changes you made. You might use that revert button if you decide you want to work from the original again. So that’s how you might lose the work you already have done. The way to get around this is to make a duplicate of the photo in the first instance before you make any changes to it. Or you could do the duplicate of the photo after the changes have been made and then use the revert button either of the two photos.

If you are interested in finding out more about iPad art applications here is an eBook / PDF format about iPad art. I’m working on a large ‘how to’ style ebook going into depth using my favourite iPad art books and it will on the eBooks stores soon.
iPad_art_book_cover
Get free iPad Art Book

Posted in Mac20Q.

Magic Trackpad 2 for the Mac with Force Touch

The joys of being a Mac aficionado

I’ve only just upgraded to El Capitan and DragonDictate and now something else new. The trackpad on my iMac which is about four years old, same age as the iMac itself has been getting slightly temperamental lately. I started to notice that it wasn’t always behaving itself, maybe about six months ago, but it was a rare problem. With the new Force Touch becoming available on the Apple watch and also with the MacBooks, I guessed there might be a new Magic Trackpad at some point in time soon. I was right, and yesterday or the day before Apple came up with the goods. The new Magic Trackpad 2 is a little bit on the pricey side, but I do need to update the one I have. It’s still possible to buy the old version of the Magic Trackpad, but if I’m going to be spending some money it’s better to have the newer and much improved version. I’m trying to decide whether I will give myself a day out and go and visit an Apple Store in Barcelona or whether I should just order it online. I might have to leave it a week before making a trip to Barcelona, so that I know for sure the shop will have the new Magic trackpad 2 in stock.

Magic Trackpad 2

So many decisions to make

The thing is, I’ve been considering whether to get my hands on the new iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil to go with it. I do an awful lot of work with my iPad and some of it is digital drawing and painting. It would make great sense as well as being completely delightful to have the new iPad Pro. The problem is with the cost of it all. I can’t afford to hang onto the iPad I have as well as the iPad Pro, so that would go part of the way towards paying for the new device. The only thing I worry about is the fact that I got the new iPad Air 2 for the lightness of it and the ease of carrying it around the house. The iPad Pro is a good bit heavier as well as being larger physically, obviously. Is it going to be a little of a pain to carry around, compared to the iPad I have now. One more thing – there is also the matter of the iPhone 6+. My wife really does need to have a new iPhone and passing on the one I have now would be a good idea. The trouble is, I would have to buy myself a new phone and once again that is going to be more money. The need to upgrade the Magic Trackpad just adds another level of monetary difficulty to consider with regards the requirements for the new technology. I’d love to buy the Apple Watch for my wife too.

What does the Magic Trackpad 2 offer

For start off, the Magic Trackpad 2 is larger by about 30%. The one I have doesn’t seem small so the new one being larger is just a bonus. It doesn’t really bother me to change the rechargeable batteries, so having built-in batteries is neither here nor there. The biggest and most useful difference is going to be the addition of the Force Touch. This will give extra functionality beyond what I can already do with using the application Better Touch Tool. The Magic trackpad 2 will sense when I press harder on the device and give me extra menu options. I already like to use the extra gestures available to get to the Mission Control and App Exposé. That’s when you swipe either up or down with the four fingers. I rarely use the gesture of spreading with the thumb and three fingers to show the desktop or the pinch action to show the Launchpad, but it is nice to know they are there if I want them. I suppose when I connect the new trackpad to my iMac it will update the trackpad information in the system preferences. It will help me to learn the new force touch gestures and start to get them into muscle memory. Looks I will be getting a new Magic Trackpad 2 on my desk quite soon.

Posted in Mac20Q.
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